Country

Finland

Finland

Name of law : Act on the Openness of Government Activities
First adopted : 1951

Section Max ScoreScore
Right of Access 6 6
Scope 30 28
Requesting procedures 30 22
Exceptions 30 16
Appeals 30 20
Sanctions 8 3
Promotional measures 16 10
TOTAL 150 105

Right of Access

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
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Comments
1 The legal framework (including jurisprudence) recognises a fundamental right of access to information.Score 0 for no constitutional right to information, 1 point for a limited constitutional right, 2 points for full constitutional recognition of a public right of access to information.2 YES Constitution of Finland. Section 12. Paragraph 2: "Documents and recordings in the possession of the authorities are public, unless their publication has for compelling reasons been specifically restricted by an Act. Everyone has the right of access to public documents and recordings." The right is constitutionally recognized as it appears between the basic liberties and rights. Link to the Constitution of Findland (different language versions): http://web.eduskunta.fi/Resource.phx/parliament/relatedinformation/constitution.htx
2 The legal framework creates a specific presumption in favour of access to all information held by public authorities, subject only to limited exceptions.No=0, Partially=1, Yes=22 YES Constitution of Finland. Section 12. Paragraph 2: "Documents and recordings in the possession of the authorities are public, unless their publication has for compelling reasons been specifically restricted by an Act. Everyone has the right of access to public documents and recordings." Section 1 (Principle of openness). Paragraph 1: “Official documents shall be in the public domain, unless specifically otherwise provided in this Act or another Act.” Unless the FOI law recognizes only the access to official documents.
3 3.1 The legal framework contains a specific statement of principles calling for a broad interpretation of the RTI law
3.2 The legal framework emphasises the benefits of the right to information?
3.1(Y/N - max 1 point)
3.2 (Y/N - max 1 point)
2 YES Section 2 (Scope of application): "This Act contains provisions on the right of access to official documents in the public domain, officials’ duty of non-disclosure, document secrecy and any other restrictions of access that are necessary for the protection of public or private interests, as well as on the duties of the authorities for the achievement of the objectives of this Act" Section 3 (Objectives): "The objectives of the right of access and the duties of the authorities provided in this Act are to promote openness and good practice on information management in government, and to provide private individuals and corporations with an opportunity to monitor the exercise of public authority and the use of public resources, to freely form an opinion, to influence the exercise of public authority, and to protect their rights and interests."




Scope

Indicator

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4 Everyone (including non-citizens and legal entities) has the right to file requests for information.Score 0 point if only residents/citizens; 1 point for all natural persons; 1 point for legal persons. 2 YES Section 3 (Objectives): "The objectives of the right of access and the duties of the authorities provided in this Act are to promote openness and good practice on information management in government, and to provide private individuals and corporations with an opportunity to monitor the exercise of public authority and the use of public resources, to freely form an opinion, to influence the exercise of public authority, and to protect their rights and interests." Section 9. (Access to a document in the public domain). "(1) Everyone shall have the right of access to an official document in the public domain." Everyone shall have the right of access to an official document in the public domain.
5 The right of access applies to all material held by or on behalf of public authorities which is recorded in any format, regardless of who produced it.Score 1-3 points if limited definition of information information such as not "internal documents" or databases excluded, 4 points for all information with no exceptions.4 YES Section 5 (Official document): “1. For the purposes of this Act, a document is defined as a written or visual presentation, […]. 2. An official document is defined as a document in the possession of an authority and prepared by an authority or a person in the service of an authority, or a document delivered to an authority for the consideration of a matter or otherwise in connection with a matter within the competence or duties of the authority. In addition, a document is deemed to be prepared by an authority if it has been commissioned by the authority; and a document is deemed to have been delivered to an authority if it has been given to a person commissioned by the authority or otherwise acting on its behalf for the performance of the commission.” 3. "[...] the following are deemed not to be official documents: (1) a letter or other document sent to a person in the service of an authority or to an elected official [...]; (2) notes kept by a person in the service of an authority or a person commissioned by an authority... (3) documents procured for in-service training, information retrieval or any other comparable internal activity of an authority; (4) a document given to an authority for the performance of a task on behalf of a private party, or prepared for this purpose; (5) a document left with or handed in to an authority as lost property,” Section 6 (When a document prepared by an authority enters the public domain) Paragraph 1: “Unless otherwise provided on document publicity or secrecy or another restriction of access to information in this Act or another Act, a document prepared by an authority shall enter the public domain as follows: (1) an entry in a continuously updated diary or comparable register enters the public domain when it is made; however, information on a suspect in the diary of a prosecutor enters the public domain only after the application for a summons or the prosecutor’s summons has been signed or verified in a similar manner, or after the public prosecutor has decided to waive prosecution or the matter has lapsed;” Section 15 (Forwarding the request for a document to another authority) Paragraph 2: “If access is requested to personal, business, real estate or vehicle data or other similar identification or address information which is entered into a register meant for public use by another authority, the request may be transferred for the consideration of the appropriate registration authority.” There is a limited definition of the documents that are included under the scope (Official documents), at least in the FOI Act. For example, the "Drafts which have not yet been released for presentation or other consideration" and other internal documents are excluded (1 points loss). This exception refers to the so called “library-exception” concerning about documents procured for internal training, information retrieval and any other comparable internal activity of an authority. The purpose of the rule is to leave it to the discretion of the official to what extent it gives out information for example copies of publications or electronic dictionaries that are considered as working tools inside the authority. It does not refer to internal documents in general.
6 Requesters have a right to access both information and records/documents (i.e. a right both to ask for information and to apply for specific documents).Score 1 point for only documents, 1 point for information2 YES Section 2. (Scope of application): “This Act contains provisions on the right of access to official documents in the public domain, officials’ duty of non-disclosure, document secrecy and any other restrictions of access that are necessary for the protection of public or private interests, as well as on the duties of the authorities for the achievement of the objectives of this Act.” Administrative Procedure Act of Finland. Section 8 (Advice). Paragraph 1: “An authority shall provide to its customers the necessary advice, within its competence, for taking care of administrative matters; as well as respond to the questions and queries on its service. Advice shall be provided free of charge.”
7 The right of access applies to the executive branch with no bodies or classes of information excluded.This includes executive (cabinet) and adminsitration including all ministries, departments, local government, public schools, public health care bodies, the police, the armed forces, security services, and bodies owned or controlled by the above.Score 4 points for central government agencies covered: 1 for the head of state, 1 for ministries, 1 for other non-statutory agencies created by the ministries, 1 for state and local government if the government is unitary. If it´s a federalist system, 2 points for the non-statutory agencies. This can be determined by examining the length and thoroughness of the list, if such a schedule exists. Score 1 point for the archives. Add three points and deduct 1 for each exempted central agency (such as the armed forces, police, etc).8 YES Section 1 (Principle of openness). Paragraph 2: “There are specific provisions that apply to the right to attend Parliamentary plenary sessions, meetings of municipal councils and other municipal bodies, court hearings and meetings of ecclesiastical bodies.” Section 4 (Authorities) Paragraph 1: “For the purposes of this Act, authorities are defined as: (1) State administrative authorities and other State agencies and institutions; (2) courts of law and the other bodies for the administration of the law; (3) State enterprises; (4) municipal authorities; (5) the Bank of Finland, including the Finance Supervision Authority, the National Pensions Institution and other independent institutions subject to public law; however, this Act applies to the documents of the Pensions Security Centre and the Agricultural Pensions Institute as provided in paragraph (2); (6) Parliamentary agencies and institutions; (7) ˜land authorities, when performing the duties of State authorities in ˜land; (8) independent boards, consultative bodies, commissions, committees, working groups, investigators, as well as auditors of municipalities and federations of municipalities, and other comparable organs appointed for the performance of a given task on the basis of an Act, a Decree or a decision of an authority referred to in subparagraph (1), (2) or (7). Paragraph 2: “The provisions on an authority also apply to corporations, institutions, foundations and private individuals appointed for the performance of a public task on the basis of an Act, a Decree or a provision or order issued by virtue of an Act or a Decree, when they exercise public authority. Separate provisions apply to access to the documents of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.” No bodies seems are excluded from the scope of the Act. The openness act does not contain a separation between administrative or other documents. The Parliament’s rules of procedure also contain rules on access to Parliament’s documents.
8 The right of access applies to the legislature, including both administrative and other information, with no bodies excluded. Score 1 point if the law only applies to administrative documents, 2-3 points if some bodies excluded, 4 points if all legislative branch at all levels of government4 YES Section 4 (Authorities). Paragraph 1: “For the purposes of this Act, authorities are defined as: (1) State administrative authorities and other State agencies and institutions; (2) courts of law and the other bodies for the administration of the law; (3) State enterprises; (4) municipal authorities; (5) the Bank of Finland, including the Finance Supervision Authority, the National Pensions Institution and other independent institutions subject to public law; however, this Act applies to the documents of the Pensions Security Centre and the Agricultural Pensions Institute as provided in paragraph (2); (6) Parliamentary agencies and institutions; (7) ˜land authorities, when performing the duties of State authorities in ˜land; (8) independent boards, consultative bodies, commissions, committees, working groups, investigators, as well as auditors of municipalities and federations of municipalities, and other comparable organs appointed for the performance of a given task on the basis of an Act, a Decree or a decision of an authority referred to in subparagraph (1), (2) or (7)." No bodies are excluded from the scope of the Act. The openness act does not contain a separation between administrative or other documents. The Parliament’s rules of procedure also contain rules on access to Parliament’s documents.
9 The right of access applies to the judicial branch, including both administrative and other information, with no bodies excluded. Score 1 point if the law only applies to administrative documents, 2-3 points if some bodies excluded, 4 points if all judicial branch at all levels of government4 YES Section 4 (Authorities). Paragraph 1: "For the purposes of this Act, authorities are defined as:[…] (2) courts of law and the other bodies for the administration of the law […];" Section 6 (When a document prepared by an authority enters the public domain). Paragraph 1.7: “a court order or judgment enters the public domain from the moment it is handed down or when it is made available to the parties;" No bodies are excluded from the scope of the Act. There are also provisions in the special laws relating to the judicial branch.
10 The right of access applies to State-owned enterprises (commercial entities that are owned or controlled by the State). Score 1 point if some, 2 points if all2 YES Section 4 (Authorities). Section 1: "For the purposes of this Act, authorities are defined as: [...] 3. State enterprises;<...>"
11 The right of access applies to other public authorities, including constitutional, statutory and oversight bodies (such as an election commission or information commission/er). Score 1 point if some bodies, 2 points if all2 YES Section 4 (Authorities). Section 1: "For the purposes of this Act, authorities are defined as: [...] 5. the Bank of Finland, including the Finance Supervision Authority, the National Pensions Institution and other independent institutions subject to public law; however, this Act applies to the documents of the Pensions Security Centre and the Agricultural Pensions Institute as provided in paragraph (2)" "including...other independent institutions subject to public law" - by the lecture of the article, it seems that all the mentioned bodies are included.
12 The right of access applies to a) private bodies that perform a public function and b) private bodies that receive significant public funding. 1 point for public functions, 1 point for public funding 2 Partially Section 4. Paragraph 2: "To make public information available is the obligation of representative trade unions and employees organisations in the understanding of the Act of 6 July, 2001 on the Tripartite Committee for Social-Economic Matters and voivodship committees of social dialogue (Journal of Laws No 100, it. 1080, with later amend.) and political parties." No mention about private bodies that receive the funding.

Requesting Procedures

Indicator

Description

Scoring instructions
MAX score
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Comments
13 Requesters are not required to provide reasons for their requests.Y/N answer 0 or 2 points2 YES Section 13 (Request for access to a document). Paragraph 1. "A request for access to an official document shall be sufficiently detailed, so that the authority can determine which document the request concerns. The person requesting access shall be assisted, by means of official diaries and indexes, to specify the document to which access is being requested. The person requesting access need not identify himself/herself nor provide reasons for the request, unless this is necessary for the exercise of the authority’s discretion or for determining if the person requesting access has the right of access to the document." No reasons are asked.
14 Requesters are only required to provide the details necessary for identifying and delivering the information (i.e. some form of address for delivery).Score Max 2 points and deduct if requesters are required to give any of the following: ID number, telephone number, residential address, etc.2 YES Section 13 (Request for access to a document). Paragraph 1. "A request for access to an official document shall be sufficiently detailed, so that the authority can determine which document the request concerns. The person requesting access shall be assisted, by means of official diaries and indexes, to specify the document to which access is being requested. The person requesting access need not identify himself/herself nor provide reasons for the request, unless this is necessary for the exercise of the authority’s discretion or for determining if the person requesting access has the right of access to the document." The unique detail that is asked in order to access to an official document is that the request "shall be sufficiently detailed".
15 There are clear and relatively simple procedures for making requests. Requests may be submitted by any means of communication, with no requirement to use official forms or to state that the information is being requested under the access to information law.Max 2 points. Considerations include that there is no requirement to state that the request is under the RTI law, nor to use an official form, nor to identify the document being sought. 2 YES Section 13 (Request for access to a document): "1. A request for access to an official document shall be sufficiently detailed, so that the authority can determine which document the request concerns. The person requesting access shall be assisted, by means of official diaries and indexes, to specify the document to which access is being requested. The person requesting access need not identify himself/herself nor provide reasons for the request, unless this is necessary for the exercise of the authority’s discretion or for determining if the person requesting access has the right of access to the document. 2. When requesting access to a secret document, a personal data filing system controlled by an authority or any other document, access to which can be granted only subject to certain conditions, the person requesting access shall, unless specifically otherwise provided, declare the use to which the information is to be put, as well as give the other details necessary for determining whether the conditions have been met and, where necessary." No requirements are asked in order to obtain the information.
16 Public officials are required provide assistance to help requesters formulate their requests, or to contact and assist requesters where requests that have been made are vague, unduly broad or otherwise need clarification. Score 1 point for help in formulation and 1 point for clarification procedures2 YES Section 13 (Request for access to a document): "1. A request for access to an official document shall be sufficiently detailed, so that the authority can determine which document the request concerns. The person requesting access shall be assisted, by means of official diaries and indexes, to specify the document to which access is being requested. The person requesting access need not identify himself/herself nor provide reasons for the request, unless this is necessary for the exercise of the authority’s discretion or for determining if the person requesting access has the right of access to the document. 2. When requesting access to a secret document, a personal data filing system controlled by an authority or any other document, access to which can be granted only subject to certain conditions, the person requesting access shall, unless specifically otherwise provided, declare the use to which the information is to be put, as well as give the other details necessary for determining whether the conditions have been met and, where necessary." Administrative Procedure Act of Finland. Section 8 (Advice). Paragraph 1: “An authority shall provide to its customers the necessary advice, within its competence, for taking care of administrative matters; as well as respond to the questions and queries on its service. Advice shall be provided free of charge.”
17     Public officials are required to provide assistance to requesters who require it because of special needs, for example because they are illiterate or disabled.Score Yes=2 point, No=02 YES Administrative Procedure Act of Finland. Section 8 (Advice). Paragraph 1: “An authority shall provide to its customers the necessary advice, within its competence, for taking care of administrative matters; as well as respond to the questions and queries on its service. Advice shall be provided free of charge.”
18 Requesters are provided with a receipt or acknowledgement upon lodging a request within a reasonable timeframe, which should not exceed 5 working daysScore 1 point for receipt, 1 point for max 5 working days2 NO Not mentioned.
19 Clear and appropriate procedures are in place for situations where the authority to which a request is directed does not have the requested information. This includes an obligation to inform the requester that the information is not held and to refer the requester to another institution or to transfer the request where the public authority knows where the information is held.Score: 1 point for information not held, 1 for referrals or 2 for transfers2 YES Section 14 (Decision on access). "(1) Unless otherwise provided, the decision to grant access to an official document shall be made by the authority in possession of the document..." Paragraph 3: “If the official [...]refuses to grant the requested access, he/she shall : (3) ask a person who has filed a written request for access whether he/she wishes to have the matter forwarded to that authority;” Section 15 (Forwarding the request for a document to another authority): “1 If access is requested to a document prepared by another authority or pertaining to a matter under consideration by another authority, the request may be forwarded to be dealt with by the authority that has prepared the document and is responsible for the consideration of the matter as a whole. 2. If access is requested to personal, business, real estate or vehicle data or other similar identification or address information which is entered into a register meant for public use by another authority, the request may be transferred for the consideration of the appropriate registration authority.” Administrative Procedure Act. Section 21 (Transfer of a document): “1. An authority to whom a document has been delivered by mistake for purposes of consideration of a matter beyond its competence shall without delay transfer the document to the authority it deems to be competent. The sender of the document shall be informed about the transfer. 2. When a document is transferred, no decision as to its admissibility need be made. 3. When a document, which is to be delivered to an authority within a specific period of time, is transferred, the prescribed period of time shall be considered observed, if the document is delivered to the competent authority within that period.” There is a possibility, under consideration of the requester, that the public authority that received the application forward the petition, knows that the document pretended is in power of another body.
20 Public authorities are required to comply with requesters’ preferences regarding how they access information, subject only to clear and limited overrides (e.g. to protect a record).Score: 2 points for Yes, only 1 point if some limitations2 YES Section 16 (Modes of access). Paragraph 1: "Access to an official document shall be by explaining its contents orally to the requester, by giving the document to be studied, copied or listened to in the offices of the authority, or by issuing a copy or a printout of the document. Access to the public contents of the document shall be granted in the manner requested, unless this would unreasonably inconvenience the activity of the authority owing to the volume of the documents, the inherent difficulty of copying or any other comparable reason."
21 Public authorities are required to respond to requests as soon as possible.Score: No=0, Yes=2 points 2 YES Section 14 (Decision on access). Paragraph 4: “A matter referred to in this section shall be considered without delay, and access to a document in the public domain shall be granted as soon as possible and in any event within two weeks from the date when the authority received the request for the document. If the number of the requested documents is large, if they contain secret parts or if there is any other comparable reason for the consideration and the decision of the matter requiring special measures or otherwise an irregular amount of work, the matter shall be decided and access to the document granted within one month of the receipt of the request for access by the authority.”
22 There are clear and reasonable maximum timelines (20 working days or less) for responding to requests, regardless of the manner of satisfying the request (including through publication).Score: 1 point for timeframes of 20 working days (or 1 month, 30 days or 4 weeks). Score 2 points for 10 working days (or 15 days, or two weeks) or less.2 YES Section 14 (Decision on access). Paragraph 4: “A matter referred to in this section shall be considered without delay, and access to a document in the public domain shall be granted as soon as possible and in any event within two weeks from the date when the authority received the request for the document. If the number of the requested documents is large, if they contain secret parts or if there is any other comparable reason for the consideration and the decision of the matter requiring special measures or otherwise an irregular amount of work, the matter shall be decided and access to the document granted within one month of the receipt of the request for access by the authority.” Administrative Procedure Act; Article 23 (Duration): "A matter shall be considered without undue delay." The established timeframe is 2 weeks (10 working days).
23 There are clear limits on timeline extensions (20 working days or less), including a requirement that requesters be notified and provided with the reasons for the extension.---2 YES Section 14 (Decision on access). Paragraph 4: “A matter referred to in this section shall be considered without delay, and access to a document in the public domain shall be granted as soon as possible and in any event within two weeks from the date when the authority received the request for the document. If the number of the requested documents is large, if they contain secret parts or if there is any other comparable reason for the consideration and the decision of the matter requiring special measures or otherwise an irregular amount of work, the matter shall be decided and access to the document granted within one month of the receipt of the request for access by the authority.” Administrative Procedure Act; Section 7: "Service and the consideration of matters by an authority should be arranged so that the customer of the administration receives appropriate service and that the authority can perform its tasks productively. Section 8: "An authority shall provide to its customers the necessary advice, within its competence, for taking care of administrative matters; as well as respond to the questions and queries on its service. Advice shall be provided free of charge. If the matter does not fall within the competence of an authority, it should direct the customer to the competent authority." The established timeframe will be 1 month (20 working days). No specific rule about notifying the requester, but it is an standard administrative procedure that can be inferred by the reading of Articles 7 and 8 of the Administrative Procedure Act.
24 It is free to file requests.Score: No=0, Yes=2 points2 YES Section 34 (Charges): "A copy of a document and the provision of access to information in the form of a printout or by means of a technical interface, otherwise electronically or in a comparable manner, as well as the retrieval and delivery service provided by an authority, may be subject to a charge, as specifically provided elsewhere. Other access provided by virtue of this Act shall be free of charge."
25 There are clear rules relating to access fees, which are set centrally, rather than being determined by individual public authorities. These include a requirement that fees be limited to the cost of reproducing and sending the information (so that inspection of documents and electronic copies are free) and a certain initial number of pages (at least 20) are provided for free. Score 1 point for fees being limited to reproduction and delivery costs and set centrally, 1 point for at least 20 pages free of charge or for fees being optional2 Partially Section 14 (Decision on access). Paragraph 3: "If the official or the other person referred to in paragraph (2) refuses to grant the requested access, he/she shall: inform the person requesting access of the charges involved in the consideration of the request." Section 34 (Charges): "A copy of a document and the provision of access to information in the form of a printout or by means of a technical interface, otherwise electronically or in a comparable manner, as well as the retrieval and delivery service provided by an authority, may be subject to a charge, as specifically provided elsewhere. Other access provided by virtue of this Act shall be free of charge."
26   There are fee waivers for impecunious requesters ---2 NO Not mentioned.
27 There are no limitations on or charges for reuse of information received from public bodies, except where a third party (which is not a public authority) holds a legally-protected copyright over the information. Score: No=0, Yes=2 points2 NO Not mentioned. No restrictions on the re-use of information (except for personal data). Directive 2003/98/EY has been implemented by the Openness Act.


Exceptions

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28 The standards in the RTI Law trump restrictions on information disclosure (secrecy provisions) in other legislation to the extent of any conflict.Score 4 points for a resounding "yes" and 1/2/3 points if only for some classes of information or for some exceptions. If the state secrets law is not trumped by the RTI law max score is 2 points. 4 Partially Section 6 (When a document prepared by an authority enters the public domain). Paragraph 1: "Unless otherwise provided on document publicity or secrecy or another restriction of access to information in this Act or another Act, a document prepared by an authority shall enter the public domain as follows [...]." According to the experts, there might be secrecy provisions in some other acts, but they are not be in conflict substantially with the provision in the openness act (2 point loss).
29 The exceptions to the right of access are consistent with international standards. Permissible exceptions are: national security; international relations; public health and safety; the prevention, investigation and prosecution of legal wrongs; privacy; legitimate commercial and other economic interests; management of the economy; fair administration of justice and legal advice privilege; conservation of the environment; and legitimate policy making and other operations of public authorities. It is also permissible to refer requesters to information which is already publicly available, for example online or in published form.Score 10 points and then deduct 1 point for each exception which either (a) falls outside of this list and/or (b) is more broadly framed10 Partially Section 11 (Parties’ right of access): “1. A petitioner, an appellant and any other person whose right, interest or obligation in a matter is concerned (a party) shall also have the right of access, to be granted by the authority which is considering or has considered the matter, to the contents of a document which is not in the public domain, if they may influence or may have influenced the consideration of his/her matter. 2. A party, his/her representative or counsel shall not have the right of access referred to in paragraph (1) above to[…] 3. If a document forms a part of the documentation in a civil or criminal trial, a party shall have access to it regardless of the restrictions in paragraph (2), except for the1 5 case referred to in paragraph (2)(7). In so far as the document contains information on deliberations referred to in chapter 1, section 7 of the Code of Judicial Procedure, access to it shall be subject to the permission of the authority." Section 24 (Secret official documents): “1. Unless specifically otherwise provided, the following official documents shall be secret: […] 2. The provisions in section 17 shall be taken into account in the application of the provisions on document secrecy in paragraph (1) or in another Act.” There are several exceptions that falls outside the list: "documents concerning the basic materials for a dissertation or other scientific study, technological or other development project"; "the basic data for research and statistics" (3 points loss). This is the exception that is broadly framed: "the documents of the Government Foreign Affairs Committee" (because it may misused in order to protect information that might reveal the breach of human rights, corruption, etc.; 1 point loss).
30 A harm test applies to all exceptions, so that it is only where disclosure poses a risk of actual harm to a protected interest that it may be refused. Score 4 points and then deduct 1 point for each exception which is not subject to the harm test 4 Partially Section 24 (Secret official documents): “1. Unless specifically otherwise provided, the following official documents shall be secret: […] 2. The provisions in section 17 shall be taken into account in the application of the provisions on document secrecy in paragraph (1) or in another Act.” Section 28 (Official permission to gain access to a secret document): “1 Unless otherwise provided in an Act, an authority may, on a case-to-case basis, grant permission to gain access to a secret document for purposes of scientific research, statistical compilations or the preparation of official plans or studies, if it is obvious that access will not violate the interests protected by the secrecy provision. When a decision on access is made, due consideration shall be given to the safety of the freedom of scientific research. If the information in the document has been handed over to the authority on the consent of the person whose interests are protected by the secrecy provision, the permission may be granted only subject to the conditions for use and access laid down in the consent. If permissions are required for documents in the possession of a number of authorities within the purview of the same ministry, the ministry shall decide on the permission, where necessary, after having heard the authorities. 2. A permission referred to in paragraph (1) above may be granted for a fixed period; the conditions necessary for the protection of the public and private interests involved shall be attached to the permission. The permission may be withdrawn, if this is deemed to be necessary.” A slight harm test applies, but not to all the exceptions listed. Almost all the exceptions to which the harm test does not apply are related with privacy and other legitimate interests.
31 There is a mandatory public interest override so that information must be disclosed where this is in the overall public interest, even if this may harm a protected interest. There are ‘hard’ overrides (which apply absolutely), for example for information about human rights, corruption or crimes against humanity.Consider whether the override is subject to overarching limitations, whether it applies to only some exceptions, and whether it is mandatory.4 NO Not mentioned.
32 Information must be released as soon as an exception ceases to apply (for example, for after a contract tender process decision has been taken). The law contains a clause stating that exceptions to protect public interests do not apply to information which is over 20 years old.Score 1 point for each2 Partially Section 31 (Declassification): "1. An official document shall no longer be secret when the period of secrecy provided in an Act or ordered on the basis of an Act has ended or when the authority which has ordered the secrecy of the document has repealed that order. 2.The period of secrecy for official documents is 25 years, unless otherwise provided or ordered. A document which is secret for the protection of private life, as provided in section 24(1)(24)—(32), or a comparable document which is kept secret by virtue of another Act or an order based on another Act shall be kept secret for 50 years after the death of the person whom the document concerns or, if the time of death is unknown, for 100 years. 3. If it is obvious that the declassification of the document would, even after the period provided in this section, cause significant harm to the interests protected by the secrecy provision, the Government may extend the period by at most 30 years. 4. The period of secrecy of an official document shall run from the date on the document or, if the document bears no date, from the day of its completion. The period of secrecy of a document handed in by a private person shall run from the day when the authority has received the document." The period of secrecy for official documents is 25 years, unless otherwise provided or ordered (1 point loss). However, when the protected interest is private life, then the maximum time is longer. Moreover, for example secrecy based on article 24(10) can still be necessary after 25 years if the infrastructure (for example information on the facilities of the armed force) is still used by the armed forces after 25 years.
33 Clear and appropriate procedures are in place for consulting with third parties who provided information which is the subject of a request on a confidential basis. Public authorities shall take into account any objections by third parties when considering requests for information, but third parties do not have veto power over the release of information.Score: 1 point for consultation, 1 further point if original time frames must be respected and the law allows for expedited appeals.2 Partially Administrative Procedure Act; Section 34 (Hearing a party): "1. Before the matter is decided, a party shall be reserved an opportunity to express an opinion on the matter and to submit an explanation on the demands and information which may have an effect on its decision. 2. A matter may be decided without hearing the party, if: (1) the demand is ruled inadmissible or immediately rejected as groundless; (2) the matter pertains to admission to service or to voluntary education or training; (3) the matter pertains to the granting of a benefit on the basis of the personal characteristics of the applicant; (4) hearing may jeopardise the objectives of the decision or the delay in the consideration of the matter arising from the hearing causes a significant hazard to public health, public safety or the environment; or(5) the demand, which does not concern other parties, is approved or the hearing is for another reason obviously unnecessary." No mention about timeframes being respected (1 point loss). As a general rule a document delivered to an authority shall enter the public domain when the authority has received it. Exceptions relate to classified information and information received from another state when a commitment to keeping the information secret has been made.
34 There is a severability clause so that where only part of a record is covered by an exception the remainder must be disclosed. Score 1 point if yes but sometimes can be refused (eg: if deletions render meaningless the document) and 2 points if partial access must always be granted2 YES Section 10 (Access to a secret document): "[...] When only a part of a document is secret, access shall be granted to the public part of the document if this is possible without disclosing the secret part."
35 When refusing to provide access to information, public authorities must a) state the exact legal grounds and reason(s) for the refusal and b) inform the applicant of the relevant appeals procedures.Score Y/N: 1 point for a and 1 point for b2 YES Section 14 (Decision on access): "If the official [...]refuses to grant the requested access, he/she shall inform the person requesting access of the reason for the refusal;"


Appeals

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36 The law offers an internal appeal which is simple, free of charge and completed within clear timelines (20 working days or less).Score 2 points if the internal appeal fulfills these criteria, 1 point if an appeal is offered that does not fulfill this criteria, 0 for no internal appeals.2 YES Section 14 Paragraph 3.2 "If the official or the other person referred to in paragraph (2) refuses to grant the requested access, he/she shall <...> (2) inform the person requesting access that he/she may have the matter decided by the authority;".
37 Requesters have the right to lodge an (external) appeal with an independent administrative oversight body (e.g. an information commission or ombudsman). 1 for partial, 2 for yes2 YES The Constitution of Finland, Section 109 (Duties of the Parliamentary Ombudsman) "(1) The Ombudsman shall ensure that the courts of law, the other authorities and civil servants, public employees and other persons, when the latter are performing a public task, obey the law and fulfil their obligations. In the performance of his or her duties, the Ombudsman monitors the implementation of basic rights and liberties and human rights. (2) The Ombudsman submits an annual report to the Parliament on his or her work, including observations on the state of the administration of justice and on any shortcomings in legislation." A complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman or the Chancellor of Justice is possible. But we have focus on the Parliamentary Ombudsman because the Chancellors of Justice does not have the necessary international standard about the administrative independent. The Constitution of Finland, Section 108 (Duties of the Chancellor of Justice of the Government): "(1) The Chancellor of Justice shall oversee the lawfulness of the official acts of the Government and the President of the Republic. The Chancellor of Justice shall also ensure that the courts of law, the other authorities and the civil servants, public employees and other persons, when the latter are performing a public task, obey the law and fulfil their obligations. In the performance of his or her duties, the Chancellor of Justice monitors the implementation of basic rights and liberties and human rights."
38 The member(s) of the oversight body are appointed in a manner that is protected against political interference and have security of tenure so they are protected against arbitrary dismissal (procedurally/substantively) once appointed.Score: 1 point for appointment procedure, 1 point for security of tenure2 Partially Constitution of Finland, Article 38: "The Parliament appoints for a term of four years a Parliamentary Ombudsman and two Deputy Ombudsmen, who shall have outstanding knowledge of law." The Parliamentary ombudsman is appointed by the parliament, The Chancellor of Justice is appointed by the President. Nevertheless, all these authorities are responsible for the legality of their actions.
39 The oversight body reports to and has its budget approved by the parliament, or other effective mechanisms are in place to protect its financial independence.Score 1 point for reports to parliament, 1 point for budget approved by parliament2 YES Constitution of Finland. Section 83 (State budget): “The Parliament decides on the State budget for one budgetary year at a time. It is published in the Statute Book of Finland. The government proposal concerning the State budget and the other proposals pertaining to it shall be submitted to the Parliament well in advance of the next budgetary year. The provisions in section 71 apply to the supplementation and withdrawal of the budget proposal. A Representative may, on the basis of the budget proposal, through a budgetary motion initiate a proposal for an appropriation or other decision to be included in the State budget. Once the pertinent report of the Finance Committee of the Parliament has been issued, the budget is adopted in a single reading in a plenary session of the Parliament. More detailed provisions on the consideration of the budget proposal in the Parliament are laid down in the Parliament's Rules of Procedure. If the publication of the State budget is delayed beyond the new budgetary year, the budget proposal of the Government shall be applied as a provisional budget in a manner decided by the Parliament." The Chancellor of Justice and the Parliamentary Ombudsman have a constitutional duty to report of their actions on a yearly basis. The State budget (which includes the financing of courts and the other oversight bodies) is approved by the Parliament.
40 There are prohibitions on individuals with strong political connections from being appointed to this body and requirements of professional expertise.Score 1 point for not politically connected, 1 point for professional expertise2 YES Constitution of Finland, Article 38: "The Parliament appoints for a term of four years a Parliamentary Ombudsman and two Deputy Ombudsmen, who shall have outstanding knowledge of law." Parliamentary Ombudsman Act. Section 17: "“During their term of service, the Ombudsman and the Deputy-Ombudsmen shall not hold other public offices. In addition, they shall not have public or private duties that may compromise the credibility of their impartiality as overseers of legality or otherwise hamper the appropriate performance of their duties as Ombudsman or Deputy-Ombudsman." Requirements of professional expertise are listed in both Acts (Parliamentary Ombudsman and Chancellor of Justice Act).
41 The independent oversight body has the necessary mandate and power to perform its functions, including to review classified documents and inspect the premises of public bodies.Score 1 point for reviewing classified documents, 1 point for inspection powers2 NO Constitution of Finland. Section 111 (The right of the Chancellor of Justice and Ombudsman to receive information): “The Chancellor of Justice and the Ombudsman have the right to receive from public authorities or others performing public duties the information needed for their supervision of legality. The Ombudsman has the right to attend these meetings and presentations. Parliamentary Ombudsman Act . Section 5 (Inspections): “1. The Ombudsman shall carry out the on-site inspections of public offices and institutions necessary to monitor matters within his or her remit. Specifically, the Ombudsman shall carry out inspections in prisons and other closed institutions to oversee the treatment of inmates, as well as in the various units of the Defence Forces and Finnish peacekeeping contingents to monitor the treatment of conscripts, other military personnel and peacekeepers. 2. In the context of an inspection, the Ombudsman and his or her representatives have the right of access to all premises and information systems of the public office or institution, as well as the right to have confidential discussions with the personnel of the office or institution and the inmates there.” Section 6 (Executive assistance): “The Ombudsman has the right to executive assistance free of charge from the authorities as he or she deems necessary, as well as the right to obtain the required copies or printouts of the documents and files of the authorities and other subjects.” Section 7 (Right of the Ombudsman to information): “The right of the Ombudsman to receive information necessary for his or her oversight of legality is regulated by Section 111 (1) of the Constitution.” The oversight bodies will not look into matters where an appeal in a court is still pending or the time for an appeal has not yet passed.
42 The decisions of the independent oversight body are binding. Score N=0, Y=2 points2 NO Parliamentary Ombudsman Act. Section 11 (Recommendation): “1.In a matter within the Ombudsman's remit, he or she may issue a recommendation to the competent authority that an error be redressed or a shortcoming rectified. 2. In the performance of his or her duties, the Ombudsman may draw the attention of the Government or another body responsible for legislative drafting to defects in legislation or official regulations, as well as make recommendations concerning the development of these and the elimination of the defects.” Link to the Parliamentary Ombudsman Act (In English): http://www.oikeusasiamies.fi/Resource.phx/eoa/english/lawlinks/act-ombudsman.htx
43 In deciding an appeal, the independent oversight body has the power to order appropriate remedies for the requester, including the declassification of information. 1 for partial, 2 for fully2 YES Parliamentary Ombudsman Act. Section 11 (Recommendation): “1.In a matter within the Ombudsman's remit, he or she may issue a recommendation to the competent authority that an error be redressed or a shortcoming rectified. 2. In the performance of his or her duties, the Ombudsman may draw the attention of the Government or another body responsible for legislative drafting to defects in legislation or official regulations, as well as make recommendations concerning the development of these and the elimination of the defects.”
44 Requesters have the right to lodge a judicial appeal.1 for partially, 2 for fully.2 YES Section 33 (Appeal): “1. The decision of an authority shall be subject to appeal, as provided in the Act on Administrative Judicial Procedure (586/1996), unless otherwise provided in paragraph (2). A decision of an authority other than those listed in section 7 of the Act on Administrative Judicial Procedure shall be appealed before the Supreme Administrative Court. However, an appeal against the decision of a local or regional authority and a decision of a institution, corporation, foundation or private individual exercising public authority, as referred to in section 4(1)(8) and 4(2), shall be lodged with the Administrative Court which has jurisdiction under section 12 of the Act on Administrative Judicial Procedure. 2. If a party to the case requests access to a document related to a pending trial, the pertinent court order shall be subject to appeal in accordance with the procedure for appeals in the main issue. In addition, the provisions on the Act on the Openness of Court Proceedings apply to the right of appeal.” The procedure on how to appeal to a decision with a request is not defined in this law, but it can be found in the Act on Administrative Judicial Procedure.
45 Appeals to the oversight body (where applicable, or to the judiciary if no such body exists) are free of charge and do not require legal assistance.1 for free, 1 for no lawyer required. 2 YES Valtion Maksuperustelaki 1992/150 article 10. Appeals to the supreme legality oversight bodies (Chancellor of Justice and PO) are free of charge and also the appealing within the authority. According to this article, the oversight bodies decide themselves about the charges, and the Parliamentary ombudsman and the Chancellor of Justice have decided that the handling of complaints will be free of charge.
46 The grounds for appeal to the oversight body (where applicable, or to the judiciary if no such body exists) are broad (including not only refusals to provide information but also refusals to provide information in the form requested, administrative silence and other breach of timelines, charging excessive fees, etc.).Score 1 point for appealing refusals, additional points for appealing other violations.4 YES Parliamentary ombudsman Act. Section 2 (Complaint): "1. A complaint in a matter within the Ombudsman's remit may be filed by anyone who thinks a subject has acted unlawfully or neglected a duty in the performance of their task. 2. The complaint shall be filed in writing. It shall contain the name and contact particulars of the complainant, as well as the necessary information on the matter to which the complaint relates." The definition given in these articles is broad and seems to cover all the possible grounds for the external appeal.
47 Clear procedures, including timelines, are in place for dealing with external appeals (oversight/judicial).Score 1 point for clear procedures, 1 point for timelines. 2 NO Not mentioned.
48 In the appeal process (oversight/judicial/) the government bears the burden of demonstrating that it did not operate in breach of the rules.Score Y/N and award 2 points for yes. 2 NO Since the administrative judicial procedure has a particular nature,there is no specific rule on the burden of proof.
49 The external appellate body has the power to impose appropriate structural measures on the public authority (e.g. to conduct more training or to engage in better record management)1 for partial, 2 for fully. 2 Partially Parliamentary Ombudsman Act. Section 10 (Reprimand and opinion): “1. If, in a matter within his or her remit, the Ombudsman concludes that a subject has acted unlawfully or neglected a duty, but considers that a criminal charge or disciplinary proceedings are nonetheless unwarranted in this case, the Ombudsman may issue a reprimand to the subject for future guidance. 2. If necessary, the Ombudsman may express to the subject his or her opinion concerning what constitutes proper observance of the law, or draw the attention of the subject to the requirements of good administration or to considerations of fundamental and human rights.” Section 11 (Recommendation): “1. In a matter within the Ombudsman's remit, he or she may issue a recommendation to the competent authority that an error be redressed or a shortcoming rectified. 2. In the performance of his or her duties, the Ombudsman may draw the attention of the Government or another body responsible for legislative drafting to defects in legislation or official regulations, as well as make recommendations concerning the development of these and the elimination of the defects.” Section 14 (Competence of the Ombudsman and the Deputy-Ombudsmen): “1. The Ombudsman has sole competence to make decisions in all matters falling within his or her remit under the law. Having heard the opinions of the Deputy-Ombudsmen, the Ombudsman shall also decide on the allocation of duties among the Ombudsman and the Deputy-Ombudsmen. 2. The Deputy-Ombudsmen have the same competence as the Ombudsman to consider and decide on those oversight-of-legality matters that the Ombudsman has allocated to them or that they have taken up on their own initiative. 3. If a Deputy-Ombudsman deems that in a matter under his or her consideration there is reason to issue a reprimand for a decision or action of the Government, a Minister or the President of the Republic, or to bring a charge against the President or a Justice of the Supreme Court or the Supreme Administrative Court, he or she shall refer the matter to the Ombudsman for a decision.” Not impose, but the Ombudsman can issue a reprimand.


Sanctions & Proteccions

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50 Sanctions may be imposed on those who wilfully act to undermine the right to information, including through the unauthorised destruction of information.Score 1 point for sanctions for underming right, 1 point for destruction of documents 2 YES Criminal Code of Finland. Chapter 40 (Offences in office (604/2002)). Section 9 (Violation of official duty): “1. If a public official, when acting in his or her office, intentionally in a manner other than provided above in this chapter violates his or her official duty based on the provisions or regulations to be followed in official functions, and the act, when assessed as a whole, taking into consideration its detrimental and harmful effect and the other circumstances connected with the act, is not petty, he or she shall be sentenced for violation of official duty to a fine or to imprisonment for at most one year. 2. The public official may also be sentenced to dismissal if he or she is guilty of the offence referred to in subsection 1 by continuously or essentially acting in violation of his or her official duties, and the offence indicates that he or she is manifestly unfit for his or her duties." Link to the Criminal Code of Finland (In English): http://www.finlex.fi/en/laki/kaannokset/1889/en18890039.pdf
51 There is a system for redressing the problem of public authorities which systematically fail to disclose information or underperform (either through imposing sanctions on them or requiring remedial actions of them).Score 1 point for either remedial action or sanctions, 2 points for both 2 Partially Criminal Code of Finland. No sanctions, but a kind of remedial action (reprimand) will be imposed to the Public Authorities that fails on its duty of disclose information. No sanctions for public authorities listed, only for officials (1 point loss).
52 The independent oversight body and its staff are granted legal immunity for acts undertaken in good faith in the exercise or performance of any power, duty or function under the RTI Law. Others are granted similar immunity for the good faith release of information pursuant to the RTI Law.Score 1 for oversight body, 1 for immunity for others2 NO The independent oversight body (Parliamentary Ombudsman and Chancellor of Justice) do not have inmmunity in the exercise of their charges.
53 There are legal protections against imposing sanctions on those who, in good faith, release information which discloses wrongdoing (i.e. whistleblowers).Score 2 for strong protections, 1 for moderate protections2 NO No legal protections against the whistleblowers.


Promotional measures

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54 Public authorities are required to appoint dedicated officials (information officers) or units with a responsibility for ensuring that they comply with their information disclosure obligations.Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES Section 14 (Decision on access). Paragraph 2. "Access to the contents of a document shall be granted by an official or employee who has been so designated by the authority or to whom the task otherwise belongs by virtue of his/her office or duties."
55 A central body, such as an information commission(er) or government department, is given overall responsibility for promoting the right to information. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO Section 18 (Good practice on information management): “1. In order to create and realise good practice on information management, the authorities shall see to the appropriate availability, usability, protection, integrity and other matters of quality pertaining to documents and information management systems and, for this purpose, especially […] 2. More detailed provisions on the measures necessary for the realisation of the obligations provided in paragraph (1) shall be issued by Decree. However, more detailed provisions on the diaries of the courts and prosecutors shall be issued by the Ministry of Justice. Provisions may be issued by Decree on the powers of the Government to issue more detailed orders and guidelines on the technical specifications for data security arrangements and procedures for the safeguarding of information management systems and the information contained therein, ensuring the integrity and quality of the information and the transfer of information by way of data networks, as well as on the classification, within the State administration, of the pertinent documents, information management systems and the information contained therein.” Decree on the Openness of Government Activities and on Good Practice in Information Management (1030/1999) chapter 2." There is no body in charge of promoting the right of access to info.
56 Public awareness-raising efforts (e.g. producing a guide for the public or introducing RTI awareness into schools) are required to be undertaken by law. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES Section 18 (Good practice on information management): “1. In order to create and realise good practice on information management, the authorities shall see to the appropriate availability, usability, protection, integrity and other matters of quality pertaining to documents and information management systems and, for this purpose, especially […] (5) see to it that their personnel are adequately informed of the right of access to the documents they deal with and the procedures, data security arrangements and division of tasks relating to the provision of access and the management of information, as well as to the safeguarding of information, documents and information management systems, and that compliance with the provisions, orders and guidelines issued for the realisation of good practice on information management is properly monitored." Section 20 (Duty of the authorities to produce and disseminate information): “1. The authorities shall promote the openness of their activities and, where necessary for this purpose, produce guides, statistics and other publications, as well as information materials on their services and practices, as well as on the social conditions and developments in their field of competence. When the extent of this duty is being assessed, due consideration shall be given to the opportunities to obtain information on the activity of the authority by means of access to its documents or the general compilations of statistics in Finland.”
57 A system is in place whereby minimum standards regarding the management of records are set and applied. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES Section 18 (Good practice on information management): “1. In order to create and realise good practice on information management, the authorities shall see to the appropriate availability, usability, protection, integrity and other matters of quality pertaining to documents and information management systems and, for this purpose, especially […] (5) see to it that their personnel are adequately informed of the right of access to the documents they deal with and the procedures, data security arrangements and division of tasks relating to the provision of access and the management of information, as well as to the safeguarding of information, documents and information management systems, and that compliance with the provisions, orders and guidelines issued for the realisation of good practice on information management is properly monitored." Section 20 (Duty of the authorities to produce and disseminate information): “1. The authorities shall promote the openness of their activities and, where necessary for this purpose, produce guides, statistics and other publications, as well as information materials on their services and practices, as well as on the social conditions and developments in their field of competence. When the extent of this duty is being assessed, due consideration shall be given to the opportunities to obtain information on the activity of the authority by means of access to its documents or the general compilations of statistics in Finland.”
58 Public authorities are required to create and update lists or registers of the documents in their possession, and to make these public. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES Section 18 (Good practice on information management): “1. In order to create and realise good practice on information management, the authorities shall see to the appropriate availability, usability, protection, integrity and other matters of quality pertaining to documents and information management systems and, for this purpose, especially […] (1) maintain an index of any matters submitted and taken up for consideration and any matters considered and decided, or otherwise make sure that their public documents can be easily located;” Article 20. (Duty of the authorities to produce and disseminate information) "(1) The authorities shall promote the openness of their activities and, where necessary for this purpose, produce guides, statistics and other publications, as well as information materials on their services and practices, as well as on the social conditions and developments in their field of competence. When the extent of this duty is being assessed, due consideration shall be given to the opportunities to obtain information on the activity of the authority by means of access to its documents or the general compilations of statistics in Finland. (2) The authorities shall publicise their activities and services, as well as the rights and obligations of private individuals and corporations in matters falling within their field of competence. (3) The authorities shall see to it that the documents or the pertinent indexes which are essential to the general public’s access to information are available where necessary in libraries or public data networks, or otherwise easily accessible to the members of the public."
59 Training programs for officials are required Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 YES Section 18 (Good practice on information management). Paragraph 5: "see to it that their personnel are adequately informed of the right of access to the documents they deal with and the procedures, data security arrangements and division of tasks relating to the provision of access and the management of information, as well as to the safeguarding of information, documents and information management systems, and that compliance with the provisions, orders and guidelines issued for the realisation of good practice on information management is properly monitored."
60 Public authorities are required to report annually on the actions they have taken to implement their disclosure obligations. This includes statistics on requests received and how they were dealt with. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO Not mentioned
61 A central body, such as an information commission(er) or government department, has an obligation to present a consolidated report to the legislature on implementation of the law. Score Y/N, Y=2 points2 NO Not mentioned